Tuesday, 26 July 2016

July - emerging from the gloom.

What a disaster until a week or so ago, blooms rotting off before they open and standing water in July. This post is a compilation of what seems to be the best of a bad job as we have at last been treated to some sun now.

Primula florindae and Iris ensata along with Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff also a Polygonum showing colour. 

What I like about geraniums is that some have the ability to weave in and out of other plants without being detrimental yet adding splashes of colour. Geranium × oxonianum 'Wargrave Pink' is doing just that.

The delightful little Astilbe from the background in the above picture. its name is lost in the mists of time but I think Astilbes are wonderful plants, providing colour at just the right time.

The Japanese Water Iris (Iris ensata), Polygonum, Primula florindae, a white campanula and  Spiraea japonica 'Golden Princess' are adding a touch of colour.

Two groups of containers with some lilies just breaking bud. Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' is so useful for pots but the foliage does not age too well.  

Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' partnered with Sedum Jose Aubergine

The second group is fronted by Geranium oxonianum 'Katherine Adele'. Campanula 'Sarastro' is next to it but has finished flowering and will be replaced.

Campanula 'Sarastro' note the tiny flowers of Geranium pyrenaicum alba, these charming plants seed themselves into everything and come back year after year.

Another view with the Cotinus coggygria 'Grace' growing away in rampant fashion to dominate the area, I sometimes have to cut it back mid-season.

The Front Garden

There are not many pictures on the site of my front garden other than those of problems, more later.

I seem to be acquiring a love of hardy geraniums here we have the super award winning Geranium 'Rozanne', maybe not everyone's choice for the situation but 'Rozanne' being sterile just keeps on flowering. 

Front garden view includes Polygonum microcephalum 'Red Dragon ', unknown Verbena courtesy of Roger and several others including alliums and Rudbeckia hirta.

View up the path to the front door I used to put loads of containers down the path but because of poor summers stopped, this year I have gone overboard and used Cannas and bedding plants such as petunias to put on a bit of a show.

Unknown Canna cultivar.

A mishmash of mainly Geraniums but remarkably a self sown group of Sisyrinchium striatum from a clump that died out because of encroaching shade two years ago.

Okay its common but Lysimachia vulgaris (Yellow Loosestrife)is a great reliable plant which will thrive in adverse conditions, here it sits next to Digitalis purpurea yet another common native in shade, I enjoy growing those plants which can be described as "difficult" but at the end of the day you just have to love native plants.

Creeping around in deep shade Geranium wallichianum set off by the falling needles.

Cedrus atlantica glauca needle drop.
This is the bad news, needle drop is caused by a fungus which is triggered by temperature. The cold spring seems to have played a part, when the temperatures rose very quickly earlier this year, albeit for a short time, it created the worst attack I have seen leading to massive needle drop.   

At first a sort of attractive pinkish colouration appears.

Followed by a massive needle drop, all the brown areas are now denuded and much worse.
Good stuff

After the doom and gloom here are a few plants which inspire:

Francoa sonchifolia 'Pink Giant' Reliable hardy perennial, soft green scalloped foliage sets off the pink spires of flower. (Plant World Seeds)

Dregea sinensis, Chinese climber known as the hardy Hoya or Wax-flower, Hoyas were once a popular house plant. Grown from seed this rather exotic climber proves easy to grow even with me.
The pure simplicity of a specie rose, Rosa glauca.
The "Meconopsis Bed"

Things are moving, as the big blue poppies are finishing Meconopsis walichii is coming into flower amongst the lilies and Ligularia przewalskii.

 Meconopsis bed pictures, note the Rodgersia leaves 
After a terrible spring which has seen the failure of many a plant things seem to be getting back to normal.

Monday, 13 June 2016

June garden snippets.

After two weeks of really good weather and getting plenty done we have just had some horrendous rain over the weekend and the week ahead is looking rather wet so I am afraid it is back to normal. The hanging baskets and most of the containers have been planted up so it's fingers-crossed that we have a decent summer.

General view from the back door, I show Viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Mariesii' pictures every year but it is a superb shrub.
Cornus kousa just poking over the Viburnum, a classic example of where not to plant a showy tree!

Meconopsis x sarsonsii is the latest to come into flower.
This is actually the water forget-me-not, Myosotis scorpioides which is a British native. I planted this as an experiment at the edge of one of my main borders to see if the ground was wet enough for it to survive, needless to say it is thriving!

Paeonia - single red type, cultivar unknown.

Unknown paeony. The big question is do you prefer the simplicity of the single bloom or this cultivar which has made itself at home on top of a little wall beneath a privet hedge and has been visibly wilting in the hot weather. Personally I go for the simple flower every time.

Rather a nice colour of foxglove in front of the Viburnum, it is self seeded and is showing more than a few characteristics of Pam's Choice which was growing nearby.

The combination of foxgloves and Hesperis works well in the deep shade cast by my Cedrus atlantica glauca. It did look better but the Hesperis was nearly flattened by the heavy rain.

Primula secundiflora, one of the survivors from last year's seed, a Section Sikkimensis primula from Yunnan. This plant is very young and has not reached its full potential.

Nomocharis pardanthina f. punctulata. N.pardanthina was discovered by Delavay who coincidently also found Primula secundiflora (above). This beautiful bulb was raised from seed and to have several in flower this year is very satisfying. It needs conditions very like Meconopsis so grows well in the cool damp of Scotland and my garden for which I am thankful. Will not tolerate dry conditions.

Now for the big experiment, I have been thinking about making a video for ages but decided to actually do it. This meander round my back garden is very basic, in fact this is my first attempt ever, so please bear with me, it is definitely a bit all over the place, although YouTube's enhancing software worked wonders. The bad news for you all is that I really enjoyed making it so there could be more in the future.

    Please enjoy if you can, the music is part of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto - Wm. Mccoll & the University of Washington Symphony. This is in HD best viewed in full screen.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Spring at last.

After one of the wettest winters I have experienced in recent years, ground like porridge, the likes of some Primulas and Meconopsis rotting off in tunnel conditions and now the few Meconopsis that are coming into flower seem to be less vigorous and consequently smaller flowered than usual. Normally they love my conditions but things have definitely gone wrong this season. The lack of growth could  be down to the leaching of nutrients as many parts of the garden have been flooded, albeit only to a couple of inches, but the very fact that many of the established plants have survived is little short of a miracle. Virtually every year as soon as the cherry blossom comes out we have had high winds and a couple of weeks ago working in the garden was not too different from working in a snow storm. I apologise if I sound so negative but to be honest things haven't been good.
The only project that has gone to plan occurred last week when I picked a day to spread fertilizer on both beds and grass in the morning as rain had been forecast for the afternoon to wash it in and guess what it did!

Meconopsis grandis 'Himal Sky' an early bloomer.

Meconopsis 'Kingsbarns'

Meconopsis 'Lingholm' on a sunnier day.
 The azaleas are at their brilliant best:

Rhododendron luteum

'Golden Eagle' and 'Persil' on which the stems are bending under the weight of the blooms, it also didn't help that I dropped a tree branch on it during the winter.

Two Exbury Hybrids
Other than the blues of the Meconopsis, pinks and purples seem to the dominant colours at the moment. Aquilegias are flowering everywhere along with the first of the candelabra primulas.   
The lilies are coming on, just squashed a few lily beetles, the cold weather has kept them at bay so far which is also why the Cotinus, always a late starter, has just broken bud.

I have reduced the number of primulas round the bird bath, although it looked really good at this time of the year the area then took on the appearance of a cabbage patch.

Aquilegias and geraniums provide most of the colour in the "woodland" part of the garden.

Still more aquilegias and geraniums.

Lamium orvala in the foreground with yet more aquilegias and geraniums.

A clump of Primula pulverulenta.

Looking back through the arch framed by a large camellia and a bamboo.

This is my favourite self-sown aquilegia seedling.

Another aquilegia favourite growing in deep shade, not entirely certain but I think these were grown from seed of "Mellow Yellow" much of the foliage is variegated.

Close by a self-sown seedling of Viola cornuta alba.

Lithospermum (Lithodora diffusa 'Heavenly Blue') doing its thing in shade, seems to have at least one flower every month  of the year.

Deep shade, Corydalis ophiocarpa, Geranium maculatum plus Digitalis purpurea and Hesperis matronalis to come into flower next month will lighten things up.

Choisya ternata
Still in the front garden and in shade Geranium pyrenaicum and 
Sisyrinchium striatum both self sown.
To finish with a real oddity:

Podophyllum hexandrum syn. Sinopodophyllum hexandrum. Himalayan May Apple.

Although the emerging leaves have now reverted to green I am hoping for flowers.

Last year I made several decisions, the first to no longer try to grow tulips in pots because of squirrel damage and I have to say the tulips have been sadly missed, the second to buy in "ready to plant-out plugs" because I can longer effectively raise half hardy plants from seed and to be honest it's too much hassle now. I have previously bought plugs and raised them but I am becoming ultra-lazy. Along with these there were several cheap offers including Surfinas, which were the first to be delivered and are growing away superbly, but a collection of fuchsias was badly crushed and already looking mouldy and, although I don't really need all of them it is a good job as I lost about 30%. These were bought from Van Meuwen who I don't remember having bought off before but I do like to try new suppliers for the day to day stuff.  Although I grow mainly from seed, I am sometimes tempted to a "special offer", I have bought from Hayloft Plants in the past and have had very few successes, in fact I still have a credit due after several attempts to deliver the same plants which serves as an example of you only get what you pay for. In Hayloft Plant's case I think, as the plants are raised by micro-propagation and come to you from a controlled environment, that much TLC is needed to get decent results anything less is a disaster. 

Every time I want to spray having prepared everything, be it for insect control or weed killing, even on the sunniest days we have had a strong breeze spring up, so frustrating!